Sunday, June 05, 2005

Comedy That Doesn't Stand Up

Just watched a tape of Ricky Gervais' most recent stand-up show, 'Politics', that was shown on Channel 4 this week.
Some of it was moderately funny but some of it made me very uneasy. There's a long tradition of taboo-breaking comedy but saying that people in wheelchairs are 'lazy bastards' and 'never off their arse' is just lazy comedy. I don't somehow think those remarks would have earned him a place with Dorothy Parker and chums at the Algonquin Round Table.

One or two of his jokes about 'little people in wheelchairs' were reasonably funny as well as deliberately shocking. But I don't know how funny I'd have found them if I were a paraplegic.
I do know how unfunny I found his stuff on gay people.
I don't know whether his West End audience realised it, but his piece about the equalisation of the age of consent was almost indistinguishable from the rantings of the late Baroness Young in the House of Lords and ran through every inaccurate gay stereotype in the book without even much attempt to turn them into actual gags.
The assertion that 'millions of people' had marched in favour of a lower age of consent did produce a hollow laugh....... I wish.
He was equally adrift from the facts when he said that no 16 year olds were involved in the protests since two of them took the Government to the European Court of Human Rights. But if he wants to know why not too many gay 16 year olds would want to parade themselves in front of TV cameras he should look at what's going on in our schools at the moment.

He also had a lot of infantile fun with a leaflet from the eighties promoting safe sex among gay men. Again, soft target, easy material. Any sexual activity is ludicrous out of context.
But how typical, I thought, of a heterosexual male to make fun of any non-penetrative sexual activity. Wham, bam, thank you ma'am is the McDonalds of sexuality and it might even the score if one of our gay comedians was given 90 minutes on Channel 4 to explore the limited erotic horizons of poor, white, heterosexual trash from Reading.

If I'd paid £25 for Gervais' show I'd have been less than pleased to hear him recount an urban myth that's been around since the early Neolithic period - the one about the boy masturbating on his bed who opens his eyes to find his mother has put a cup of tea on the bedside table. Several people in pubs have told me this story, pretending it happened to them, in the past 40 years but they weren't rich and fashionable comedians just sad bastards who I avoided in the future.

For 'bad taste' comedy to be acceptable (still shocking but not offensive) there are two different conditions or justifications.
The first is that the remarks are made 'in character' - i.e. a fictional character of established bigotry and stupidity like Alf Garnett or Gervais' own David Brent.
We have to assume that Gervais was not doing his stand-up act as David Brent if only because he spent some time complaining about the public confusing him with his character and shouting 'Brent' at him. Rather ungenerous of him considering it's made him a wealthy man.

The second and alternative condition is when jokes about minority groups are made by members of that minority themselves.
The oldest example of that genre is Jewish humour but in recent years there's been a proliferation of comedians who are gay or Muslim or with various disabilities. At their best, these people can make an audience laugh at absurd preconceptions and stereotypes whilst simultaneously demonstrating how ridiculous they are.

Gervais, not belonging to any minority other than rich and moderately talented white comedians from provincial towns, can only say 'I'm going to say things so shocking in their tastelesness that despite the absence of any real wit, you will laugh to cover your shock or embarrassment. This is my unique comedy selling point and if you don't like it, fuck off.'
But, intentionally or not, he's also saying that it's OK to laugh at people with disabilities or gay people or anyone else who is different, although he seems to steer clear of any racial material.

None of which would matter too much if gay children or autistic children weren't being beaten up in our schools. Taking playground abuse and putting it on the stage, television and DVD as cutting edge comedy, raw and unmodified by context or character, can produce an easy laugh in the theatre or living room but also a punch in the face in the street or playground.

Although comedy with social reponsibilities would mean the death of comedy and I would never want comedy to be censored, comedy doesn't exist in some compartmentalised vacuum, particularly today with television, video and DVD in homes and in children's bedrooms. Comedians still have an individual responsiblilty and, I would hope, a conscience and a capacity for self-censorship.

And there's also a strange inconsistency here. Comedies like Mind Your Language or Curry and Chips could never be shown on television today, nor could the Black and White Minstrel Show, so beloved of my parents' generation. And hell will freeze over before British television executives allow comedians like Jim Davidson and Bernard Manning to do their stage acts on TV. Yet Gervais can joke about 'spastics', say that gay men want to bugger your teenage sons and is even accorded the rare privilege of using the 'c' word unbleeped.

Oh, and did I mention that he's also not very funny?


At 10:18 PM, Anonymous Peter said...

I too watched the age of consent part of his act. And although I didn't see any of the marches he mentioned, I felt much of what he said was probably true - and some of it brought a smile.

The age was fine set at eighteen. There is no "equality" between buggery and vaginal sex, therefore there's no need or reason for equality of consent. Mrs Currie just got it wrong, no matter how well-meaning she seemed to be.

I know volumes of fine words have been shed on the matter, but the harsh reality boils down to something not one million miles from what Gervais indicated. Now disability - that's more serious, and I wouldn't have approved of that. What a tosser.

At 6:29 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

So you'd like to go back to locking up 16 and 17 year olds who have any form of gay sex? And from what you say we'd better do the same to any straight teenagers who have anal sex with their girl friends. What about oral sex - where does that rate in the 'equality' stakes?
I think your own hatred of being gay, expressed previously, is influencing your judgement here, Peter.

At 7:41 AM, Anonymous Peter said...

I guessed you'd be rude if anyone disagreed with you. It's part of your charm.

At 8:10 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

I didn't think I'd been rude and certainly didn't intend to be.

A case can be made for having a higher age of consent for everyone although I wouldn't personally agree with that. I don't think a rational case can be made for having different ages of consent for those who are straight and those who are gay. It also makes it difficult to combat the problem of homophobia in schools if a straight 16 year old can get married and a gay 16 year old can go to prison. You're sending very contradictory messages.

I've been trying to think of a difference between a black man who argues that the law should treat people differently because of their colour and a gay man who argues that the law should treat people differently because of their sexuality but without success.

At 9:08 AM, Blogger peter said...

Keep at it. It'll come. So I'm the white man's nigger now. Had to happen.

(I'm not rising to any taunts on this. My mind is quite made up, and I'd be very surprised if you wrote anything I haven't already seen.)

A straight sixteen y/o in England and Wales can get married only with her parents'/'s consent. (I think.)

Getting married is usually less hazardous than putting a strange man's sex organ up your bottom. It is. Just is. No matter what you say, Willie. Eighteen is the way to go. Old enough to drink in a pub. Old enough to fight for your country. Probably old enough for most things.

At 10:45 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

You appear to share the anti-gay lobby's focus on one particular sexual act among many possible ones. And one that, despite being so evidently disgusting, is practised by many heterosexuals.
Many young gay men's first sexual experiences will not include anal sex. Some gay men never do it because they don't like it and others will do so with some partners and not with others. There's more to be being gay than one specific sexual activity and the law doesn't distinguish, it criminalises any sexual act.

I also find your choice of language odd when you refer to 'a strange man's sex organ'. It may be the organ of your same-age partner with whom you are in a loving relationship.

Yes, 16 year olds need parental consent to get married. But they are not committing a criminal act if they have sex.
I cannot see what useful purpose is served by criminalising consensual sex between 16 year olds, not that it would ever stop them doing it anyway.
Many European countries have ages of consent lower than 16 yet have lower rates of teenage pregnancy.
None of which will change your mind if it is made up but others may find some interest in our frank exchange of views on this subject.

At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Peter said...

Part of the reason we're both alive today is that the law was there in 1960-whenever to protect our young and innocent bodies.

Face it, Willie - you've lost the argument. And as far as hatred of being gay... well I think I'm the one with the real name and the real photos on my site.

(There are many possible sex acts, I agree. The one I mention is the one that kills you. Dead. Stone dead. Legalise it all you wish. But please go to the funerals.)

At 6:01 PM, Blogger Merkin said...

I think the point is, Peter, that the equalising of the age of consent isn't about equating vaginal and anal sex per se, but about parity of esteem between people of different sexuality. Far from losing the argument, Willie makes the excellent point that whatever the law says, teenagers will be ... er .. teenagers and in my experience (as I get older) those of either sex are not remotely interested in a "strange mans sexual organ" in any orifice of theirs. Besides, if the member in question belongs to a "strange man", isn't that rape?

Ricky Gervais can be filed in the category of excellent sitcom writer, crap stand up comedian (cf Armando Ianucci, Ben Elton, Steve Coogan, etc). Personally, as soon as he starts to express an opinion contrary to mine, I get the warm feeling that I must be right after all...

At 7:57 PM, Anonymous Peter said...

It's not about that either. It's about inequality of maturity between 16 y/o girls and boys - as anyone versed in mid-teens knows only too well.

Most 16 y/o females are women. Most 16 y/o males are boys. End of story. Sorry to be dogmatic, but I tire of euphemisms.

The age of consent is about saying "yes" to a cock. Nothing else.

But the "yesses" are not equal, and cannot be, by human biology as observed for ever. Why do people keep insisting they are?

At 8:25 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

If you're talking about AIDS, Peter, well it didn't exist when we were teenagers so the law wasn't there to protect us from that. But it did mean that every sexual experience I had before I was 21 carried a prison sentence. This did not stop me having sex but it was not a pleasant or positive influence on my lfe.

Unprotected anal sex may kill you but it doesn't stop being dangerous when you turn 18 or any other age so I don't see the logic of that argument unless you want to make it illegal for everyone.

Your cheap jibe about my anonymity is surely unworthy of you. It has nothing to do with my sexuality. Most of the blogs that I read are anonymous. It's a feature of blogging and a feature of the internet.
When I said you hated being gay it was because you wrote in your blog that you hated being gay and that it had ruined your life. You also wrote in my comment box on 16th January that you were one of those people who "aren't attracted to other gays, find the idea repellent." Happily, that is not true of most gay men.
You also spoke of those who "yearn only for the anonymity their condition has so cruelly and constantly denied them" from which I assumed you were speaking of yourself. Yet you now seem to be boasting of writing an openly gay blog under your real name with real pictures and accusing me of being the one who has problems with my sexuality!

Put aside the abstract arguments and your playground taunts about who has 'lost' and who has 'won'. The concrete, human reality of this is that you are content to see a gay 16 or 17 year old boy (the law never applied to lesbians), who has enough problems already, to have his life wrecked by being dragged through the courts and sentenced, possibly to prison, for having any kind of consensual sex. That is what used to happen. The cruelty, stupidity and pointlessness of that is one reason that every organisation and charity that works with young people supported changing the law. So did those organisations that represent the parents of gay teenagers.

Those of us who support an equal age of consent do so because we don't want to see the next generation of gay men writing in their blogs one day that being gay has ruined their lives. Indeed, as I wrote at great length in January, some of us older men regard our sexuality as having been a great blessing.
Speak for yourself, Peter, as you have every right to do. But you speak only for yourself and should allow for the possibility that your view of your sexuality is not representative of gay men in general.

At 9:18 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Peter, in reply to your last comment, then we should raise the age of consent for straight teenagers because, on your argument, when 16 year olds marry, a 'woman' is marrying a 'boy'.

There's certainly scientific evidence that emotional maturity lags behind physical maturity for both sexes but I'm not so sure that the difference between the sexes in this respect is as clear-cut as you assert.
And if these teenage girls are all so mature why are so many of them managing to get accidentally pregnant?

One of the reasons for inequality of treatment between gay and straight teenagers is that patriarchal societies always put more emphasis on protecting boys than girls. I touched on this recently when I mentioned the relaxed view that society took of pop stars who have relationships with under-age girls compared to those who have them with boys. There are double standards at work that have more to do with culture than biology.

The differential treatment of the sexes is also exemplified in your remark that the age of consent "is about saying yes to cock". Try telling that to a gay female teenager. But I suppose they don't count if you take a purely male-centric, cock-centric view of the world.

And are these poor, pathetic male teenagers who would jump into bed with the first man that propositions them by any chance the same hooded thugs who allegedly terrorise our streets?
Or the same ones who beat up other schoolchildren who give the slightest hint of being gay?

As Merkin rightly says, most tenagers will run a mile from anyone outside their peer group although heterosexual girls are possibly more likely to be attracted to older males than are gay boys.
It's difficult to avoid the suspicion that it suits a patriarchal, heterosexual culture to believe in the greater maturity of female teenagers, particularly if you've ever spent time listening to straight men's fantasies.
There's also a striking difference between attitudes to older men in relationships with younger women and older women in relationships with younger men. Straight or gay, a younger male partner is always the victim of a seducer or predator. You don't have to be Germaine Greer to work out that this is about the power relationship between the two sexes more than anything else.

At 2:25 AM, Blogger portuguesa nova said...

Gay or straight, I will personally kill my children with my own two hands if they have sex at 16...if they are anywhere near as stupid as I was at 16, that is.

I had a sneaking suspicion that Ricky was a one trick pony, which is really too bad.

At 5:38 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Well, according to Peter you should have been a mature woman at 16 so you must be a biological aberration. Be that as it may, can I assume that, although disapproving, you wouldn't want your children thrown into jail for having sex at 16?
(If you'd killed them, that would be your own fate but I'm hoping you didn't mean that literally).

Gervais? Oh yes, I'd forgotten the post was about him.....whatever he says he seems unable to adopt any persona other than David Brent so he may have a rather short shelf life.

Best wishes to TPMYM and the Windy City. :-)

At 7:32 AM, Blogger Clare said...

I'm with Willie all the way down the line. As to whether a young woman can get married at 16 with parents' consent or not, that's not the point. Peter mentions "sticking a willy up someone's bottom" to which I will reply "sticking a willy in someone's vagina". I see no reason why one should be allowed but not the other.

The bottom line is the message that is sent out to young people, and doing whatever can be done to reduce the distress experienced by gay teenagers. Anything else is just flannel.

At 7:35 AM, Blogger Clare said...

Apologies for not having the time to get into this in more detail. Hopefully I'll return later.

Oh, and by the way - re the following comment on Mr Gervais: "'I'm going to say things so shocking in their tastelesness that despite the absence of any real wit, you will laugh to cover your shock or embarrassment.'"


Willie, I'm new here but I like it. Hope you don't mind if I hang around... and am particularly hoping you won't mind if I lead a few visitors to your site today as part of a game I'm playing. All will be revealed at 10am.

At 7:52 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

Clare, hang around as much as you like. I'm off to water my Lupins but will return with bated breath after 10 to see what you're up to.

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Clare said...

Congratulations, this comments box has been chosen as a participant in Clare’s Clever Treasure Hunt.

The 10th word in the secret message is “get”. Your lucky number is 1.

Each player will receive ten crisp bills in the denomination of their choice. And their breasts will get perkier. Or their girlfriend’s breasts will get perkier. Or their dog’s. Terms and conditions apply.

Here’s how to play. To find the 11th word in the message:
(1) Go to the 6th blog on this blog’s blogroll (clue: the initials are JB).
(2) Look in JB’s comments. Don’t forget to say Boo. Or Abracadabra, or something less annoying.

To return to the beginning, go here.

Terms and conditions:
(a) When you reach the secret cave, you’ll need a key to unlock the chest. That’s what the lucky numbers are for. Just follow the instructions in the cave, and Clare’s your auntie. Innit.
(c) If any of the participating blogs change their blogrolls in the next day or so, or delete any treasure hunt comments, we’re a bit buggered. Oh well.
(x) But if you get stuck, you can go back to the beginning and ask for a clue. Don’t forget to say how far you’ve got.
(b) No, I don’t know any dick enlargement spells.

At 8:29 AM, Blogger peter said...

I knew my neutral, non-judgemental disagreement over an issue would lead to personal abuse in my direction. Just knew it. I'm having ABUSE ME I LIKE IT tattooed on my forehead even as I write.

If you want to know how mature 16 y/o boys are - then ask a 16 y/o girl. She'd laugh in your face. (And his.)

But at least he'll have no problem attracting middle-aged men of a certain type.

At 9:04 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

If what you say is true about the difference between boys and girls then the logic of that is to have a higher age of consent for everyone that takes account of the later maturity of boys. It's clearly not practical to have one age of consent for girls and a different one for boys.
As I said before, a higher age of consent for everyone, although I'd disagree with it, is a coherent position to take. My objection is to different ages of consent for gay and straight people.
If quoting your own words back to you is personal abuse then I plead guilty. But I thought any personal abuse was coming from you when you wrongly accused me of writing anonymously because of my sexuality.
You give pretty short shrift to anyone who disagrees with you in your own comment box. Yet my own robust but not offensive debate with you on this subject you take as a personal attack.
If anyone else thinks I've aimed personal abuse at you here please point it out to me. If I thought that I'd done so I would apologise but I honestly don't think I have.

At 9:25 AM, Blogger Zinnia Cyclamen said...

Hi Willie, the points you make in your post are some of the many reasons why I don't watch TV. Can't stop to take part in this fascinating discussion, though, as I'm on a treasure hunt. It was fun passing through!

At 10:24 AM, Blogger Porny Boy Curtis said...

If anyone else thinks I've aimed personal abuse at you here please point it out to me.


Your opening retort is the "so what you're saying is this and that", gambit, followed by:

I think your own hatred of being gay, expressed previously, is influencing your judgement here, Peter.

It's not difficult to read that as "you are wrong because you have emotional problems". And all too easy for you to say "Ah, but that's not what I actually said," which would be disingenuous. Admittedly, you may have a point, and Peter's opinion may be twisted, warped, skewed... sorry, "influenced" ... by whatever system of beliefs he subscribes to, but so what? It's not a very good point, since it probably applies to everyone ever. It smacks, to this reader at least, of cheap aggression. Your retort does not engage with or explore the opinion he voices, and boils down to "WRONG! You are weird in the head."

At 10:48 AM, Blogger april said...

still more boo

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

It's a pretty massive leap from pointing out that someone's very negative attitude to being gay might influence their opinion on an issue to saying "Wrong, you are weird in the head." If I had said the latter I would apologise, but I didn't. Nor did I mean to imply it. However, you say that if I deny the existence of non-existent sub-texts I am being 'disingenuous' which is a polite word for lying so I really can't win on that one.
The baggage that I bring to this is that I have a positive attitude to being gay and regular readers will know that. They might not be familiar with Peter's writing on the topic so I pointed it out. That way, to use a horrible phrase, they know where we are both coming from.

As for not engaging with his opinion, I have engaged with it and tried to refute it at inordinate length and from many different angles while Peter keeps repeating the same few points which seem to be chiefly about male immaturity, anal sex and predatory middle-aged men.

At 12:19 PM, Blogger aka k said...

scuse us, just passing through on clares quest, but might as well throw in a two penneth.

at a similar age to peter, and long time happily married, i'm not too old to remember not giving the age a consent a single thought in pre-sixteen years, whether looking at girls or boys for a bit of experimentation, iykwim.

At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Alan said...

This is a thorny subject and I would see a certain amount of merit in both views. Certainly I can agree with Willie's point about equality of sexual preferences. If society has decreed that a 16 year old boy is mature enough to make an informed decision on committing an act which can result in pregnancy, then surely society has to afford the same benefit of the doubt to a gay 16 year old's maturity level.

That said, there are societal factors at work here. The heterosexual 16 year old has been indoctrinated into the idea that his actions will be greeted by his peers and by elder males with a nod and a wink, that he will be seen as "sewing his wild oats" and "doing what comes naturally." The gay 16 year old, meanwhile, will often be struggling with their own identity in a world where they are not sure who to turn to in order to get the peer support they need. It shouldn't be that way, but we have to face facts and accept that it is.

And I agree with Peter that it is for protection from older people that the age of consent needs to be in place. I certainly see no problem if two 16 year old boys, or even younger, decide to experiment sexually together. I think for most boys their first sexual experiences occur in a same-sex environment anyway, albeit in the heterosexual world that first experience is generally motivated by a mutual curiousity about the opposite sex.

I can't agree that boys would run a mile from contact outside their peer group. As a 13, 14 or 15 year old heterosexual, had a moderately attractive woman (and she would only have needed to be moderately attractive) of any age up to 20 or even 30 years older than me invited me to insert my willy into her, I wouldn't have needed asking twice. I probably wouldn't have had the foggiest idea what to do with it once it was there, but hell yes I would have made sure I was in the position to find out. Obviously I have no experience of the homosexual world of that age group, but I'm willing to bet that the attitude would not be that far different. Boys of that age want to feel like part of the grown up world, and being considered worthy of sexual attention is a fast-track into that world.

At 1:13 PM, Blogger zoe said...

a rather pointless 'boo' - and have a waffle.

At 3:24 PM, Blogger peter said...

Remind me next time to just open my gay bible and shut my mouth. Reality clearly hurts. Reality such as unequal gender developments. That males of that age often don't even have facial hair. That shagging a girl is one thing, but getting shagged can be considerably more problematic.

None so blind as...

(And all in the name of "gay and straight equality". What garbage. Whoever put philosophy before the evidence?)

My antipathy to this bill has been constant since its genesis. Too much, too far, and too young. And yes - PB Curtis is correct. You, sir, are very aggressive. Cheaply aggressive. Live long and prosper.

At 3:48 PM, Blogger geokker said...

I agree it's lazy comedy. For me, Gervais is a one gag comedian. He IS his character in the Office. He is Bernard Manning. It's similar to the 'League of Gentlemen' brand of comedy, one gag stretched molecule thin. We get it. 5 Minutes into Politics and I 'got it'. Squirmvision. Yep. Not funny. Similarly, Little Britain, while superbly executed, is squirmvision, easy comedy and makes outright descrimination indespensible to the formula.

At 4:08 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

geokker, yes and the outright discrimination of Little Britain is made more shameful by the fact that Matt Lucas is a gay man. Black comedians like Lenny Henry stopped doing that kind of comedy prostitution about 30 years ago and Lenny Henry, to his credit, says he's now ashamed of it.

Peter, please calm down. We disagree on this. We will never agree on this. But it's no big deal.
It's interesting exploring the issues and arguments involved which is one of the things blogging is for.
To paraphrase what you said about me, I suppose throwing hissy fits is part of your charm. Not that I know you well enough to say that. In print this hyper-sensitivity just looks rather childish.

PS: do you still stand by your assertion that I blog anonymously because I hate being gay? I thought that was a tad 'aggressive' actually.

At 4:39 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

alan, the problem is that the age of consent is a blunt instrument and also criminalises the same-age sexual experiences that you refer to. Obviously not many of these end up in the courts but some used to and some people did go to prison. That, in my view, is barbaric. (Also somewhat counter-productive when you consider how rife sexual abuse is in penal institutions).

As someone who does have experience of the gay world, I can assure you that only a minority of young gay men are attracted to those much older than themselves - except of course where cash transactions are involved. That said, all boys and girls, gay or straight may have early sexual encounters that they don't particularly enjoy or later regard as a mistake or would not have done if they had been more mature. That is part of the learning experience of growing up like drinking too much and being sick in the taxi home.

You are concerned about gay 16 year olds struggling with their identity (funny how only gay people struggle with their identity) but actually a lot of them are very clear about their sexual identity long before the age of 16. This interesting and lively discussion is being mainly conducted by middle-aged men. You should try asking the 16 year olds whether they want the 'protection' of a law that criminalises even a mutual wank behind the bike sheds. Contrary to what has been asserted by Gervais and others, gay teenagers were at the forefront of the campaign to change the law and some had the guts and maturity to fight their case in the European Court.
Thanks for your comment, Alan. Any perceived 'aggression' in my reply was not intentional. I'm a lifelong pacifist as it happens. At least, I used to think I was.

At 5:11 PM, Blogger Lost said...

Hi Willie
This is my first time here and I'm very interested in the discussion that has been going on. I have to agree with you that the age of consent for both homosexual and hetrosexual teenagers should be equal. All teenagers are vulnerable to a predatory adult no matter what their sexual orientation so it's a specious argument to think that only gay teenagers are in any kind of danger. I was curious what a teenager would think about this so I asked my 15 yr old and she agrees that no law is going to stop someone if they want to do it anyways - fear of their parents usually outweighs any fear of prosecution. I have to disagree with Peter on one point - teenagers come in all maturity levels. You can find a very immature 18 yr old girl and a very mature 13 yr old boy - being people they are all over the spectrum of maturity and oh so hard to generalize. Hopefully this all made some kind of sense LOL

At 5:41 PM, Blogger kenju said...


At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Alan said...

Willie - I tried to be clear there, I'm not saying that gay youngsters struggle any more or less with their identity than any other youngsters, that's really what teenage rebellion is all about. What I am saying is that discrimination against gay people still exists (and you know it does) and as a result gay youngsters do not have the kind of support system in place that straight youngsters have. I never had to "come out" as a straight man, it was just assumed that I was one.

At 6:41 PM, Blogger Michele said...

Boo, or should I say something less than annoying, perhaps the oft used HELLO greeting? Nah, what fun would that be? I passed here earlier today in a mad rush to complete Clare's Clever Treasure Hunt. Now, I have returned to peek around a bit. Please do not mind the perkiness - it is after all a treasure.

At 7:32 PM, Blogger Kat said...

boo to you

At 7:33 PM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

lost: thank you, it makes perfect sense and the point about not generalising about maturity was one I meant to make myself but the thought got lost in this avalanche of argument.

Alan: I do understand the point you are making. My generation had no support whatsoever but the support network for gay teenagers today is massive. I have some small involvement with just one organisation, founded and run by parents, which alone has local groups throughout the country. And any kid with access to the internet (despite its well-known dangers) will always find support and contacts and not feel alone in the world. Many of today's gay teenagers have a much greater confidence, knowledge and self-assurance than my generation had. It might not be an exaggeration to say that they have more resources and organisations at their disposal than straight teenagers. And by God they need them, despite all the progress there's been.

Michele: please peek and perk (is perk a verb?) as much as you want. We're open 24 hours and you can leave without visiting the gift shop.

At 8:41 AM, Blogger JonnyB said...


I've seen the Gervais thing before, so let's examine my reactions.

I laughed at it. I thought a lot of it was funny. Including the pieces about disabled people. However I didn't like the fact that I laughed at it, in analysing it later. I was laughing at the taboo being broken, rather than the subject matter of the jokes. And in my conscious analytical mind, rather than the ape-mind that switches on when I'm having a knee-jerk reaction to a comedian, I agree with the taboo.

Which makes me a hypocrite. Possibly in the same way as the fact I occasionally have a McDonalds, but am very opposed to both their business plan and food production techniques. My laid-back pragmatism allows me to sneak a Big Mac as I know not doing so will make no different - but I'd rather McDonald's didn't exist. Logical? No.

That's my own admission. So on to him. I think my core objection is that it's an easy laugh. The guy's wealthy and successful, and has an audience who know him off the telly and would be appreciative even if all he did was come on stage and drop his trousers.

Given the remotest chance that something one does might just make the world very very slightly a worse place for somebody somewhere, my recommendation, if one has the option, is to do something else. And he has all the opportunity in the world to do something else.

At 8:42 AM, Blogger JonnyB said...

"difference" not "different", of course.

At 9:36 AM, Blogger Willie Lupin said...

A brilliant comment, Mr B. It hits the nail not with a hammer but with laser-like precision.
How I wish I'd written your wonderful last paragraph.

At 12:11 PM, Blogger JonnyB said...

Why thank you!

At 1:39 PM, Blogger james henry said...

It was a very good last paragraph. Sadly, this one isn't.

At 5:51 PM, Anonymous Sarsparilla said...

Raising the age of consent for all genders/sexualities? I thoroughly agree.

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